praying for a change (9)

 

“At the time of the evening offering, the prophet Elijah drew near and prayed: ‘LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. I have done all these things at your instructions. Answer me, LORD! Answer me so that this people will know that you, LORD, are the real God and that you can change their hearts.’ Then the LORD’s fire fell; it consumed the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up the water in the trench!” (1 Kings 18.36-38 CEB)

 

God,

My offering to you this evening is simply this: I lay my head down trusting you.

Trusting you will enable me to have voice again and again to confess your name.

Trusting you will accept and use what I have offered you today with my life.

Trusting you will answer whenever I pray to be made your instrument.

Trusting you will continue to change my heart and the hearts of others.

Trusting you will shape me more and more to act on your will.

Trusting you will give me eyes to witness your great work.

Trusting you will accept me as your simple servant.

Trusting you will raise me up in the morning.

Trusting, you, LORD.

Amen.

Christ in the Psalms: restore us, Lord!

 

NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow (Sun., Feb. 26). This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon that morning from Psalm 80. This is the final sermon in the series entitled The Christ in the Psalms and the Psalms in the Christ. You’ll find these LIFE group discussion guides categorized each week here on my site under the category title LIFE group guides.

Aim

To underscore our dependence on the Lord for every blessing.

Word

Shepherd of Israel, listen! You, the one who leads Joseph as if he were a sheep. You, who are enthroned upon the winged heavenly creatures. Show yourself before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh! Wake up your power! Come to save us! Restore us, God! Make your face shine so that we can be saved!

LORD God of heavenly forces, how long will you fume against your people’s prayer? You’ve fed them bread made of tears; you’ve given them tears to drink three times over! You’ve put us at odds with our neighbors; our enemies make fun of us. Restore us, God of heavenly forces! Make your face shine so that we can be saved!

You brought a vine out of Egypt. You drove out the nations and planted it. You cleared the ground for it; then it planted its roots deep, filling the land. The mountains were covered by its shade; the mighty cedars were covered by its branches. It sent its branches all the way to the sea; its shoots went all the way to the Euphrates River. So why have you now torn down its walls so that all who come along can pluck its fruit, so that any boar from the forest can tear it up, so that the bugs can feed on it?

Please come back, God of heavenly forces! Look down from heaven and perceive it! Attend to this vine, this root that you planted with your strong hand, this son whom you secured as your very own. It is burned with fire. It is chopped down. They die at the rebuke coming from you. Let your hand be with the one on your right side—with the one whom you secured as your own—then we will not turn away from you! Revive us so that we can call on your name. Restore us, LORD God of heavenly forces! Make your face shine so that we can be saved! (Psalm 80 CEB)

Open

Icebreaker questions are meant to help us all start talking. Choose one of the following to discuss as a group.

1. Tell us about an experience you’ve had in attempting to grow something in your yard, garden, etc.

2. What usually causes you to change a bad habit: bad things happening or the prospect of blessing?

Dig

These questions are intended to help us grapple with Scripture related to this morning’s sermon.

1. Who is the “Shepherd of Israel?” (vs. 1) Who is the one at his “right side?” (vs. 17)

2. What statements are most repeated in this psalm? Where do they appear? What’s their point?

3. Israel is often depicted as a vine God planted. How does reading Isa. 5.1-7 help illuminate Ps. 80?

4. God had let Israel’s enemies ravage her (vs. 5-6,12-13,16). Using this psalm’s words, explain why.

Reflect

These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us through his word.

1. When you’ve repented of a sin, but continue to reap its consequences, how do you talk to God?

2. The psalmist says, “Enough, God; we get it! How much more?” Is it ever OK to talk to God this way?

3. When you’re anxious for God to restore and bless you, what are the biggest temptations you face?

4. Does God leave people (vs. 14a) or do people leave God? Explain.

5. Read this Psalm as if you were Jesus. You’re recalling it in the garden of Gethsemane. Thoughts?

6. A fellow believer says to you: “Many times I’ve sinned and asked for God’s mercy. Many times I’ve pledged to do better by him (vs. 17-18) and then rarely did. Why should keep I asking and trying?” How do you respond?

praying for a change (8)

 

“At the time of the evening offering, the prophet Elijah drew near and prayed: ‘LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. I have done all these things at your instructions. Answer me, LORD! Answer me so that this people will know that you, LORD, are the real God and that you can change their hearts.’ Then the LORD’s fire fell; it consumed the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up the water in the trench!” (1 Kings 18.36-38 CEB)

God,

You are real and able. Able to do anything and everything good.

I am unable. Unable to do anything good without your enabling me to do so.

You have seen me through the night and brought me to the dawn of a new day.

This I long to be today: your servant. To do everything by your instructions.

So enable me, LORD, I pray.

May all with whom I interact today know through me that you are LORD.

Amen.

this went thru my mind

 

Church: 17 Signs Your Church Might Be Dying by Trey Morgan

“Just a few days ago I visited with a man that was very concerned about the church where he was attending. … He and I got to talking about some of the signs they were seeing that pointed to their church dying out. We made quite a list, and of course a few were tongue-in-cheek. I thought I might share a few with you today.”

Criticism: Handling the Unknown Critic by Patrick Mead

“Elders are not doing their job when they just listen or when they just disregard. They weren’t called to take it – they were called to lead, and that means you might need to have a stern, firm talk with someone who was convinced they were the only one right… and that they were right because their fathers and forefathers were right. Do not allow those who claim to defend the faith cause it to shipwreck. And, while you’re thinking of it, write your minister and elders a love letter. Pray for them daily and tell them you are doing so. Lift up their hands so that they do not become weary and the battle swing against us.”

Doubt: Real Christians Don’t Have Doubts … Do They? by Tim Keller

“A faith without some doubts is like a human body without any antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic. A person’s faith can collapse almost overnight if she has failed over the years to listen patiently to her own doubts, which should only be discarded after long reflection.”

Drugs: My Life With Drugs, Rock ‘n’ Roll and Addiction by Gary Stromberg

“My office, on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, was set up like a huge living room with couches, overstuffed pillows on the floor, rock star posters lining the walls and a coffee table, the centerpiece of which was a large crystal bowl, filled at all times with a generous supply of cocaine. The house rules were ‘help yourself if you’re here on business — but no take-outs!’ We were regularly visited by our clients, including The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, The Doors and Steppenwolf. As you could imagine, my office was a very popular place.”

Gambling: A Christian Understanding of Gambling by Albert Mohler

“The nationwide explosion of legal gambling may well be the most underrated dimension of America’s moral crisis. … According to some estimates, as much as one-third of the nation’s money supply now moves through the gambling industry each year … The Bible is clear on this issue. The entire enterprise of gambling is opposed to the moral worldview revealed in God’s Word.”

Google: How to Remove Your Google Search History Before Google’s New Privacy Policy Takes Effect

“On March 1st, Google will implement its new, unified privacy policy, which will affect data Google has collected on you prior to March 1st as well as data it collects on you in the future. Until now, your Google Web History (your Google searches and sites visited) was cordoned off from Google’s other products.”

Humor: HTTP 404 Error: Wall Not Found

Leadership: 4 Ways to Become a Leader Want to Follow by Michael Hyatt

“… what separates the leaders we want to follow from the leaders we have to follow?”

Marriage: Keep Your Marriage Out of the Ditch by Jim Martin

“As I write this particular post, I am thinking about couples in their 20s. Perhaps you’ve been married for a few years. You may even have a small child or two (but not necessarily).”

Parenting: Why Take Your Children to Church? by Lori Hadorn-Disselkamp

“Nothing matters as much as the souls of our children. If we can help them know God, have faith and live a selfless life to help them to heaven is there truly anything that should hold us back from that goal?”

Photography: The Praying Otter

“This ‘once in a lifetime’ photograph taken by photographer Marac Andrev Kolodzinski, waited patently in freezing cold weather at the Whipsnade Zoo in England.”

Saturday night services: Should We Start a Saturday Night Service? by Brian Jones

“I surveyed pastors for one full year about Sat. night services and decided to launch one … We killed it … four months later.”

Shepherding: 2 Things to Avoid in Shepherding by Bev Hislop

“Active listening is not a physiological ability, it is a learned skill.”

Sleep deprivation: What Lack of Sleep Does to Your Spirit by Lynn Casteel Harper

“I am talking to the segment of society with a measure of privilege (which includes me) that has a choice — whether we admit it — between adequate and inadequate sleep.”

Solomon’s temple: What Did Solomon’s Temple Look Like? Answers from Ain Dara

“The exact design of the Solomonic Temple as described in 1 Kings 6 and 2 Chronicles 3 has been illuminated by an important excavation at Ain Dara in northwestern Syria.”

Syria: Syrian Christians Ask for Prayer

“Syrian Christians say their greatest need right now is prayer, according to Open Doors, an international ministry supporting persecuted Christians and religious freedom around the world.”

Thankfulness: I Begin Every Day Telling God About Him by Terry Rush

“Each day begins the same. As soon as I awaken, I begin telling Him thank you. There is so much for which I am naturally thankful. We are instructed to tell Him so. We are to live so.”

Thinking: Don’t Attempt Serious Thinking On the Run: How to Think Seriously by Dave Jacobs

“Certain things are necessary for serious thinking to occur, they are …”

Worship, leading: Multiple Intelligences in Worship by Anne Perry

“Many personalities and levels of spiritual experience comprise a worshiping audience. What inspires some may be dullsville for others. The fact is that multiple intelligences make up each congregation.”